Words By: Molly Schmidt
Image Credit: ABC News
Rallies are expected to take place in the major cities across the country today, in response to the plans by West Australian Premier Colin Barnett to close scores of remote Aboriginal communities.
The call to protest began with a Facebook campaign created in the remote town of Wangkatjungka on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert, and through social media, people opposing the government’s plans to close up to 150 remote Aboriginal Communities have been united both nationally and globally.
#SOSBlakAustralia has since emerged, with the Facebook page suggesting up to 15 different rallies may take place in Western Australia alone today.
In September last year, the Federal Government announced the responsibility of funding remote Indigenous communities would be transitioned to the states over the next two years. The WA Government responded by marking the closure of nearly half of the state’s 274 remote communities.
Tony Abbott has backed these plans, stating it is not the job of the taxpayer to “endlessly subsidise lifestyle choices if those lifestyle choices are not conducive to the kind of full participation in Australian society that everyone should have.”
Indigenous communities have been left feeling misunderstood and fearing displacement. An Aboriginal elder from 500 kilometres west of Alice Springs, Irene Nangala, says Tony Abbott doesn’t understand the lifestyles of Indigenous people living remotely. She says “We’ve got dreaming stories there”.
The Perth rally to stop the forced closure of Aboriginal Communities will take place at 11 am today in the city, starting on the corner of Murray Street and Forest Chase. Christine Milne, the leader of Australian Greens, will be making a speech. Her photograph can be seen on the Facebook page of SOS Blak Australia Perth, captioned by the words “Remote Indigenous communities are not a ‘lifestyle choice’ and should not be treated as such”.